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Call No.: A/E11; M-129
Repository: Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America, Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University
Creator: Amy Otis Earhart, 1869-1962
Title: Papers of Amy Otis Earhart, 1944
Quantity: 1 folders
Language of materials: Materials in English.
Abstract: Addenda to the papers of Amy Otis Earhart, mother of aviator Amelia Earhart.
For additional papers about Amy Otis Earhart and Amelia Earhart in the Schlesinger Library, see Amy Otis Earhart Papers, 1869-1962 (MC 398), the Amelia Earhart Collection (A-129), Amelia Earhart videotapes (Vt-54), and the Clarence Strong Williams Papers (A/W722). Purdue University also has a substantial body of Amelia Earhart papers.
Amy Otis was born in 1869, the second of six surviving children of Alfred Gideon and Amelia J. (Harres) Otis. Alfred Otis was a Kansas state judge and politician; he later became a U.S. District Court judge, and was chief warden of the Trinity Episcopal Church in Atchison, where the Otis family lived. Amelia Otis was the granddaughter of Gebhard Harres, a German settler well known for his work in the Lutheran Church.In 1895, after several years of courtship, Amy Otis married Edwin Stanton Earhart, a poor, young lawyer who had yet to prove himself truly worthy to the Otises' satisfaction. The Earharts moved to Kansas City, where they lived for the next ten years, during which they had two daughters: Amelia Mary (1897) and Grace Muriel (1899). Amelia, nicknamed "Millie," and Muriel, called "Pidge," spent most of each year with their Otis grandparents in Atchison. Their parents moved to Des Moines in 1907, when Edwin Stanton Earhart found legal work with the Rock Island Railroad; the girls remained in Atchison until September 1909. The following ten years were marked by a series of moves as poverty, brought on by financial mismanagement and Edwin Stanton Earhart's developing alcoholism, made life increasingly difficult. In 1915 the Earharts separated and Amy Otis Earhart moved to Chicago with her daughters. Reuniting in Kansas City in 1916, the Earharts moved to Los Angeles; they were finally divorced in 1924.Muriel was by then a teacher in Medford, Massachusetts; Amy Otis Earhart joined her there, while Amelia was a social worker at Denison House, a Boston settlement. In 1929, Muriel married Albert Morrissey; they had two children, David and Amy. In 1937, Amy Otis Earhart moved to North Hollywood to live with Amelia and her husband of six years, George Palmer Putnam; she remained in California for nine years, clinging to the hope that Amelia Earhart would return after her disappearance in July 1937. In 1946 Amy Otis Earhart rejoined Muriel's family in Medford, but returned to Berkeley in July 1949 to await Amelia Earhart's reappearance. One year later she moved back to Medford, where she died on October 29, 1962.Although sources differ as to the exact dates of the various Earhart relocations, they offer rich insights into family life and relationships. The numerous Amelia Earhart biographies include Mary S. Lovell's The Sound of Wings: The Life of Amelia Earhart (New York: St. Martin's Press, 1989), Doris L. Rich's Amelia Earhart: A Biography (Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1989), and two by Muriel Earhart Morrissey (Courage is the Price: The Biography of Amelia Earhart, Wichita, Kan.: McCormick-Armstrong Publishing Division, 1963; and, with Carol L. Osborne, Amelia, My Courageous Sister: Biography of Amelia Earhart, Santa Clara, Calif.: Osborne Publisher, 1987). Jean Backus has edited a collection of Amelia Earhart's letters, based on this collection before it was received by the Schlesinger Library (Letters from Amelia: An Intimate Portrait of Amelia Earhart, Boston: Beacon Press, 1982).
The collection consists of three letters and one note by Amelia Earhart's mother, Amy Otis Earhart. The letters, written in 1944 to Amy Otis Earhart's first cousin, Arthur Robert Otis, discuss etiquette; a search for Amelia Earhart; photographs of Amelia Earhart; travel during wartime; illness of Arthur Robert Otis's wife; and Amy Otis Earhart's displeasure with policies of President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Arthur Robert Otis was the son of Amy Otis Earhart's uncle, Arthur Gray Otis.